Since we are really close to Halloween, that means that Thanksgiving is fast approaching. So let’s get an early jump on being thankful. By starting to practice gratitude now, we’ll be certain to have maximum proficiency by the time Thanksgiving lands. Another benefit to practicing gratitude now is that we increase our chances of creating a lifestyle of thanksgiving rather than the seasonal experience. Finally, the Bible tells us to be thankful, not only for the obvious & good stuff, but also for things that are difficult. Let’s be sure to practice Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God
Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years. I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality. So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work? Then what?
In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e, the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing. It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question: why plan?
When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:
- plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams. No planning = no progress
- planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
- consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Take a minute to order a copy of my newest book that can help you to stay
Our church building is in the process of moving locations & it’s an interesting experience living in this “half-way between” place. I feel like I’m in limbo a little bit because of the new place not being entirely settled & some of my stuff is still in the old place. Furthermore, I have lots of memories associated with the old building & no memories or notable experiences yet with the new building. We are also still having services in the old building, but the new building now houses all of our offices, so that’s where we do the day to day work during the weekdays.
This reminds me of what Paul says in 2Cor 5:17 about being in Christ & a new creature with the old things having passed away and new things have come. There are times and experiences when I find myself living in my old, flesh nature, even though I know in my heart that I’m a new creation in Christ. Let’s continue to move into and occupy our new nature that Jesus has purchased for us. Here are a few possibly helpful ideas to consider:
- don’t bring the old furnishings to the new creation: stuff that’s broken & dysfunctional doesn’t need to continue in our new nature living.
- celebrate and embrace: be sure to celebrate & honor the past, but wholly & fully embrace the new creation / nature that Jesus has for you now!
- keep moving into the new creation: there were a few weeks when I procrastinated moving stuff out of the old building for various reasons. From this lesson, I’m learning that it’s important to keep looking & moving toward the new creation that Jesus has made me to be.
Feel free to pass this along to your friends / family who are navigating this journey to be more & more like Jesus!
PS – here’s my latest youtube video that’s short, fun & encouraging!
I just listened to a nice lady talk about how she had a stroke & was paralyzed from this stroke. The medical community was coaching her to accept this reality, but she felt something different in her heart. As she was in the rehab facility, God woke her & told her to begin moving her paralyzed hand. Initially, she argued with God, but then she began to try moving her fingers & miraculously she could move her knuckles, then her fingers. Long story short, she was miraculously healed from the stroke & subsequent paralysis, fully functional today with no residual affects.
Let’s be careful that we don’t quit nor give up on God’s Word & promises when we’re tired or don’t see the results we want, yet. It’s not over!
Jesus left a crowd of people where He was appreciated and valued so He could help a raving lunatic. In Mark 5:1-20, we read about a man who was completely undone and thoroughly tormented by loads of demons. He was demon possessed and was living a very tortured, painful and isolated life. When he was described in these verses, I was deeply moved by his tragic existence. He would roam the tombs & mountains with no human contact, gashing himself, screaming and unclothed with no hope of reprieve or help – until Jesus came.
When we come across people in our lives who are broken, hurting, dysfunctional, crazy, hostile, erratic and even barbaric, let’s be willing to see past these descriptions and difficulties to see a human in need of love and redemption. Let’s remember that the enemy of humanity is seeking to torture, deceive and destroy humans in any way possible. On the other side, Jesus wants to work through us to bring love, healing and redemption! Let’s make sure we stay on Jesus’ side 🙂
Do you ever feel like you’re at wits end & life is a jumbled chaotic mess? For some people, chaos is a wonderful adventure & for others, chaos is nothing but torture.
This link could help you with constructive outcomes for chaos:
What’s a yucky appointment? Anything that you don’t look forward to & this can be appointments for car repair, a performance review at work, conversation with your child’s teacher, a medical procedure, etc. Unfortunately, we all have yucky appointments that are unavoidable.
So here are some helpful ideas:
- Pray: remember that the Holy Spirit is with you all the time which includes the yucky appointments
- Wise Choices: yucky appointments can be the feeding frenzy for worry & fear. Decide to chose peace rather than worry & love over fear
- Deep Breath: this is always a good physical reset to release tension
- Trust God: it always helps me to remember that as I stay in love with Jesus & true to His purposes to me, that God causes all things to work together for my good – Rom 8:28-29
I have a pretty consistent morning routine that generally helps to frame each day with sturdy Bible applications & a prayerful mindset, usually. But this morning didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t get to have my normal quiet prayer & Bible time before my family stirs. So I ran out the door to start my day, not having the rich fellowship with God that often sustains me throughout the day. I don’t like it when that happens & I’m grateful that this is a rare occurrence.
And here’s the really magnificent thing today: I’m sensing the Holy Spirit very clearly throughout this day, despite not having my morning tuning & calibrating fellowship. Of course my absence of quiet & solitary fellowship with the Holy Spirit this morning won’t become a daily habit. Nevertheless, sensing the rich presence of the Holy Spirit throughout this day encourages me that the Holy Spirit enjoys my company & interaction, not withholding that intimacy when I fall short on my end.
Be very certain in your heart that you’re deeply valued, highly treasured & greatly celebrated by the Holy Spirit!
Usually when I watch a sports program, if I let myself get engrossed, I think about what it would be like to play that sport. So when I watch soccer, I often walk away wishing I could play soccer and the same is true for lots of other sports (except football – I don’t want to play football).
Let’s also consider that the Holy Spirit probably has a similar mindset with your life. Rather than watching from the sidelines and being a spectator, I’m thoroughly convinced that the Holy Spirit wants to be a realtime participant in your life. And I can’t think of any good reason why we wouldn’t want the Holy Spirit’s participation in our daily living. Indeed, when we walk with the Holy Spirit, everything gets better, is more exciting and has a greater chance to experience supernatural power! So let’s be committed to letting the Holy Spirit be an active participant in our lives rather than a passive spectator!
To help you walk in this reality, feel free to grab a copy of my latest book for some helpful ideas and practical insights!
I’ve come to realize that the stuff God asks me to do requires God’s help. Whenever I try to do God’s assignments without God’s help, I fall short. In this learning adventure, I’m also realizing that when I say, “I can’t”, it’s usually rooted in, “I won’t”. The difference between can’t & won’t relates to both ability & willingness.
So when God asks us to do something that we lack the ability to accomplish, let’s be careful not to be unwilling. The right answer to God is, “With Your help, I’m willing & I’ll try!” Let’s have a willing heart to walk in the Spirit!
Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.
GUESS WHAT?!?!??? I’m improving – in LOTS of ways & my blog is one of those areas 🙂 Just to keep you posted, over the weekend we’re doing some technical upgrades to make it easier for you to interact with me through the blog as well as sharing stuff & other fun upgrades. The only catch is that you’ll need to resubscribe on Monday – should be super easy & lots more friendly 🙂
I think life should be about continually improving so of course I haven to look at how I can make this blog better along with lots of other areas in my life as well! So please don’t forget to resubscribe on Monday 🙂
Thanks boatloads for reading this 🙂
I don’t care for the 2×4 technique: you know, the times when it feels like you smacked upside the head with a massive reality check. I prefer the gentle instruction but alas, sometimes I don’t get subtle. When I come to Cambodia & in lots of my work with Saving Moses, I often have the 2×4 experience- seeing babies in deplorable situations & meeting toddlers who have molested.
I think Jesus would have us listen & watch to be moved in our hearts because indeed, Jesus is deeply concerned & moved. Jesus is moved & when we are obedient I don’t see how cannot be deeply moved, even with the 2×4 experiences. Let’s be careful in our daily living that we don’t insulate ourselves from the things that move Jesus.
Presently I’m in Cambodia & this morning I was meandering around one of the neighborhoods where we provide nightcare with Saving Moses. This is always a tough neighborhood for me because of the immensity of the needs I see & feel. But it’s also a warm place for me because of the people I recognize every time, their kindness & warm acceptance. So this morning I was in this neighborhood and kind of taking in everything again. As I looked down one of the alleyways, I saw a small women & waved at her. She smiled quietly back at me. I felt drawn to her, so I walked closer & greeted her in my limited Khmer language. She was warm but respectful so I kept walking closer until I was standing just outside the opening of the space of her home. She was friendly but not overly welcoming. I peaked my head around the corner & observed a woman trying to get herself into sitting position. I could immediately tell that there was a significant physical ailment by the degree of struggle this women undertook to sit up. No joke, it took her between 2-3min to get herself upright. I kept watching to figure out what was going on with her. Her belly was really distended, so initially I thought she was pregnant, but dismissed this immediately because this was something different. She opened her shirt at her belly, revealing a swollen stomach like I’ve never seen, ever. I forced myself to not pull back from shock & tried to process what was wrong. Because I was by myself there was no help for me with any conversation, so I just stood there for what seemed a long time, unsure what to do. As I got my bearings, I felt in my heart that I was to pray for her and that was extremely helpful because I wasn’t just a helpless spectator to her pain & struggle. I stepped into the room and asked if I could pray (by that time, my translator friend came to help me). I began praying for her & also listening in my heart on how / what to pray. Of course I wanted to see some immediate evidence of healing & she did express that the pain she was experiencing was diminishing. I’ll go back tomorrow & check on her.
Seeing things that are atrocious can shock is into freeze mode or we can look to the Holy Spirit to help us be vessels for healing & divine love. Let’s chose love rather than be repelled by sickness & disease!
Or not! At the end of last ski season, I was ripping a run down the mountain, accidentally flipped, landed on my head & got a concussion. The months since this event have been an “adventure” that I wouldn’t recommend. One of the challenges from this adventure is some balance issues & thankfully, this is getting better.
Seems like we don’t recognize problems with balance until we get out of balance. And if we are honest with ourselves, we tend to go for the extremes rather than cultivate moderation.
Balance is essential in the entirety of our lives. We need balance in how we manage our time, balance with our eating & exercise disciplines, balance in our relationships & solitude, balance between the Word & the Spirit, . . . .
Balance is good & necessary to mature into the people God has made us to be 🙂
I used to have an insatiable appetite for good coffee, not so much bad coffee. Thankfully, I’ve had an intervention so I’m not quite the junkie I once was. But this journey has started me to think about some things in new ways. It seems like the human experience suggests that we can never get enough – not enough money, not enough time, not enough recognition, not enough care or attention, not enough . . . .
I think our perspective on the idea of “enough” gets warped because we focus on the provision more than the Provider.
Somehow we’ve swallowed the poison that provision can replace Provider & we chase the illusion of enough.
When I was a coffee junkie, I could never get enough. I believe that the enemy of our soul would endeavor to perpetuate this illusion through the continuous acquisition but never sustaining pursuit of provision rather than Provider.
Indeed, let us seek first the kingdom of God & everything falls into divine order.
This morning I overslept so I missed my normal Bible prayer time. Sometimes this makes me cranky & my already shady social skills deteriorate. On these occasions, I try to keep a wide space from people to minimize the offense potential.
But this morning, I tried a different strategy. Rather than withdraw & be sullen, I decided to attend a moms prayer meeting that I’d never been to before. It was a 50/50 role of the dice & it turned out A-MAZING!! Despite not feeling like it, I went the extra mile & received way MORE than I anticipated.
Seems like this kind of lines up with what Jesus says about going the extra mile & giving with generosity, no matter how we feel. Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to help us go the extra mile today 🙂
We recently had some work done on our kitchen that included replacing the countertops with granite. While the granite is very beautiful, it’s SUPER heavy. Imagine the shock when it started to become unglued & fall off the support wall! Thankfully, no one was hurt but it brought to light some interesting thoughts. The glue wasn’t strong enough to keep the granite attached, so we not only re-glued the granite but now we’re also installing corbels (a fancy architectural term for bracket).
For me, I see this granite adventure kind of like the Holy Spirit working in my daily living. Not only do I need the Holy Spirit to keep me glued together, but I need all of the Holy Spirit support that’s possible to keep me in a functional mindset & to prevent me from falling apart. My flesh is like gravity – pulls me to the lowest level possible. The Holy Spirit keeps me upright, living in truth & holds me together 🙂
In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy.
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!
Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:
- In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
- In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
- How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?
I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!
And sometimes not.
Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction
- Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
- Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
- Change – correction without change is wasted energy